Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Joseph Kyrillos took aim at President Barack Obama's tax plan Wednesday during a visit to the Sea Box headquarters, arguing that the proposal to extend Bush-era tax cuts solely to individuals and families who earn below $250,000 would hurt small- and medium-size businesses.
Kyrillos, who is running to unseat Democrat Robert Menendez, said the proposal would in effect raise taxes and stifle growth at businesses like Sea Box Inc., whose owner includes the business' earnings in his income tax filings.
"They have 200 employees and still want to invest and grow, and we're going to hike their taxes on Jan. 1," Kyrillos said about the impending expiration of the tax cuts.
Obama has called on Congress to extend the cuts this summer, but he wants the relief cut off for those who earn more than $250,000 a year, noting the additional revenue could be used for deficit reduction.
Republicans want the cuts extended for all earners.
Kyrillos said raising taxes on businesses like Sea Box, which has expanded its work force despite the recession, would stifle their growth and hurt workers.
"How is that going to help them expand? People who think that raising taxes on those with the highest income doesn't matter should go talk to the welder or electrician I just met here. How is that policy going to help them? The answer is: It's not," the longtime state legislator said.
Menendez defended the president's proposal during an appearance on CNN's "Out Front" show, stating that middle-class families are struggling and that the tax relief would help the economy grow. He also said 97 percent of small businesses would remain unaffected by the expiration of the cuts for those earning more than $250,000.
"The people who are struggling in this country are middle-class working families. And the relief that we can give to them ultimately provides a ripple effect in the economy, because they are most likely going to have the need to spend," Menendez said. "But when you're a millionaire, or a multimillionaire or a billionaire, the reality is you're not going to spend that much more as a result of the tax cut."
Kyrillos made his comments after a tour of Sea Box's Union Landing Road manufacturing plant and headquarters. The company builds, renovates, sells and leases new and used storage containers that are modified to become shelters, housing units, power-generating stations, mobile restrooms/showers, and scores of other uses.
"People talk all the time about Americans not building anything anymore. Well, we're building from scratch, and we're doing it right here in Cinnaminson," said Jay Frederick, Sea Box's vice president of operations.
Kyrillos said one reason he's running for U.S. Senate is to make sure America remains a place where business innovation is rewarded and not stifled by government regulations and taxes.
"We want this country to remain the place where Sea Box's innovation can happen," he said.
Sea Box was the eighth business Kyrillos has visited on a statewide jobs tour that included the Spring Hills at Cherry Hill assisted-living center, Viking Village commercial seafood producers on Long Beach Island, and Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City.
Kyrillos launched the business tour in June after winning the GOP primary to help develop a detailed jobs plan that would include meaningful tax relief and an end to regulations that impede business growth or competitiveness.
"We need to get rid of government apparatus that imposes constraints and challenges for businesses," he said.